Ichikawa, who died of cancer aged 37 in 1969, is the object of an enduring cult in Japan and the 12-film Nemuri Kyoshiro series is one of its cornerstones. This inaugural episode doesn't go into Kyoshiro's nefarious origins as the son of a lapsed missionary and a geisha (later films show satanic rituals around his birth) but presents him as an auburn-coiffed scourge of greed and corruption in late-Tokugawa Japan: a cynical ronin (a masterless samurai) who lives for adventure and responds only to sincerity in others. His trademark duelling technique (a circular sweep of the sword, invariably fatal) is here pressed into service for a deeply wronged woman and tested against the karate skills of a worthy foe. The plot uses real life figures of the 1840s such as the trade embargo-buster Zeniya as historical referents, but historiography comes second to the fetishisation of the saturnine anti-hero. (The US release title is a nonsense: the Buddha statuette which contains an incriminating receipt isn't made of jade, and it's not Chinese but Thai.